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Thursday, 24 November 1927

Senator NEEDHAM (Western Australia) . - The fifteen minutes allowed me is not- sufficient to enable me toreply to all the statements of honorable senators opposite, but I shall deal with a few of them. Let me assure Senator Sampson and others that I had, and still have, no intention of reflecting upon the Italian people as a race. I endeavoured to point to the economic situation brought about in Australia by the influx of Southern Europeans, and its effect upon the Australian labour market. My party has never been afraid to express its opinion regarding the immigration problem. We are prepared to throw open our doors to our brothers from overseas, as soon as we have put our own house in order. The figures I quoted this afternoon prove beyond doubt that the preponderance of British arrivals has been reduced in the past few years, owing to the large number of migrants from Southern Europe. The Leader of the Senate stressed the fact that the subject of migration is a domestic one. I admit that, and because of that fact I contend that it is our own concern. "We can and we have already determined that matter for ourselves. Our representatives protested at the Assembly of the League of Nations that the admission of immigrants into Australia was purely our own concern. Therefore we take full responsibility for our attitude in that matter, so far as Japan is concerned. 1. remind Senator Sampson that Japan was just as great an ally of the British Empire in the recent war as Italy was, and rendered as much assistance as did Italy; but still wo say that the people of J apan must not enter Australia. Japan does not resent our attitude. The Leader of the Senate, in a somewhat cynical tone, referred to a. few individuals in New South Wales, whom, he claimed, were not genuinely unemployed, but he made no attempt to refute my figures. He said that unemployment in that State was a result not of the influx of Southern Europeans, but of the regime of the Lang Government. I invite him to consider the position. Victoria during its history has only had a Labour Government for about ten months. When Labour assumed office this year Victoria had the greatest number of unemployed that it had had for years. Since Mr. Hogan has been Premierof the State he has considerably reduced the ranks of the workl ess. Let me again emphasize the serious influx of Southern Europeans. Although the number of British immigrants has increased by 6,000 since 1925, the proportion of British as opposed to foreign migrants has de creased from 76 per cent. to 73 per cent. Somebody has said that unemployment is not peculiar to Australia. I believe that ; but it is more than strange - it is a tragedy - that so many men are out of work in this country. Although unemployment may be rampant in other parts of the world, is Australia comparable with other countries so far as its natural resources and its ability to provide work is concerned ? Something is seriously wrong with the system under which we are governed. My right honorable friend remarked that Mr. Lang was guilty of reckless expenditure. Let me remind him that this Government has in its team a gentleman who, as Treasurer, has beaten Australian records for extravagance and recklessness. Another word as to the way in which the influx of foreigners has accentuated unemployment. It was reported in the Adelaide Advertiser of the 22nd November, that eight Australia citizens employed at a Broken Hill mine had been dismissed, and eight Italians had been put in their places. I do not think that that is an isolated case.

Senator Payne - Why were they dismissed ?

Senator NEEDHAM - The paragraph so far as I am aware, did not state the reason.

SenatorFoll. - Yes it did. I read the reason.

Senator NEEDHAM - It must have been an extraordinary one.

Senatorfoll.- It was.

Senator NEEDHAM - In drawing attention to the subject of unemployment I had no desire to embarrass the Government, or prevent it from proceeding with its business. I hope that it will now adopt drastic measures to prevent the undue influx of Southern Europeans which directly interferes with the employment of Australians. Having made my protest I ask permission to withdraw the motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

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